Lee v. Simpson
134 U.S. 572 (1890)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Lee v. Simpson, 134 U.S. 572 (1890)

Lee v. Simpson

No. 1418

Submitted March 17, 1890, with leave to appellant

to file reply brief in ten days

Decided April 7, 1890

134 U.S. 572

Syllabus

A testatrix, residing in South Carolina, who died in July, 1866, left a will made by her in 1863, by a codicil to which, made in January, 1866, she bequeathed to her daughter, then married to C., three-fourths of her interest in a bond and mortgage debt, to be vested in a trustee, who was appointed, and to be enjoyed by the daughter during her life, power being given to the daughter, to dispose of such "bequest" as she pleased, "by a last will and testament duly executed by her." In September, 1875, the daughter died, leaving a will executed in September, 1871, which recited that she was "entitled to legacies" under the will of her mother, and to a distributive share in the estates of a sister and a brother, "and notwithstanding my coverture, have full testamentary power to dispose of the same," and then bequeathed to her husband, C.,

"the entire property and estate to which I am now in any wise entitled and which I may hereafter acquire, of whatever the same may consist, . . . absolutely and in fee simple."

Held:

(1) The court is authorized to put itself in the position occupied by the daughter when she made her will in order to discover from that standpoint, in view of the circumstances then existing, what she intended.

(2) The will of the daughter was intended by her to be, and was, a full execution of the power, because it referred expressly to the subject matter of the power.

(3) The statement in it as to "full testamentary power" referred to the fact that, although she was a married woman, she had power to "dispose of the same" by a will, such power being given to her by the will of her mother, and did not refer to the provision of the Constitution of 1868 of South Carolina, and the legislation consequent thereon, enabling married women to dispose of their own property by will.

(4) Outside of her interest in the bond and mortgage, she had practically no property.

In equity. Decree dismissing the bill. The plaintiff appealed. The case is stated in the opinion.

Page 134 U. S. 574

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